Today’s question is: What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?
Does a cover image play a vital role in attracting a reader? Should it reflect the genre and characters in the story?
Have you changed a cover? If so why? Was the new cover more successful?
Please leave your replies in the comments. Thank you
Comments from last week question:
When your narrative is set in a real location do you research it or do you visit it?
What are the pros & cons of utilizing the internet to find out about a location versus actually staying there?
I once wrote a character who worked in a factory. I didn’t care what kind of factory, it just had to be a factory. My aunt worked in a meat packing plant, so I asked her if I could visit her at work. Not only did they let me visit, I got a tour and got to watch “the line” as they worked. It was fantastic. The story was “Poor David” and it’s in my collection, Things Withered! I’m telling you, visiting that plant was invaluable, and I’ll use the info again in some other piece, I’m certain. It’s always better to see and feel and hear a place.
The Bardess of Rhulon began with the idea of a female Dwarf heroine. There are very few Dwarven heroines in fantasy tales, which makes my story unique. Usually, fantasy dwarf stories are all about manly, dwarves, armored with battle-axes, downing buckets of ale as they braid their long beards. I wanted to expand on a fantasy story where Dwarven culture was more developed and rounded. Then when I had her name, Rose Greenleaf, the story began to unfold.
How did you come up with the title?
That was tough, because for the few years as I drafted my novel and made changes, I just called it Rose Greenleaf. When Prince Culain Ironheart, who employs her as his official bard, he calls her Bardess. In my Dwarven society, this was an ancient title for female bards, which is rare now. Her Rose’s world, a proper young girl marries, has babies, bakes pies, and stays home. Rose is incapable of this. This drives her mother nuts. Her nature is wild and her talent as a bard is impressive. Since Rose is from the country of Rhulon, I finally titled my novel, The Bardess of Rhulon.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Love your children, but let them grow and become the person they want to be. For women everywhere, you must also rise to become the person you want to be. I love creating tales with interesting heroines. That is my brand and my purpose as an author…to create tales where heroines rule. We need heroines now, more than ever.
How much of the book is realistic?
Well, this is a fantasy set in a secondary world. There is magic and magical creatures. What is realistic is the viewpoint of my society structures, customs, and everyday issues. I incorporated themes that people of this world can relate to-arranged marriages, family problems, slavers who kidnap innocents and the law (my rangers) who infiltrate and save people, prejudice, mother and daughter conflict, political issues, and religious strife when faith becomes fanatical. The list goes on. That is what makes my tale realistic-when you add in the real things every society experiences. It is also about learning who you are and who you should try to be.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I wish I knew these people, but they spring from my imagination in full bloom. If I could escape to a world with magic, I would already be there!
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
This will be a trilogy. I know how Rose Greenleaf’s adventures and how her tale ends. The tentative titles for the next two books are The Rhapsodé Curse and The Sun Blade.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
So hard, so hard….I love them all. Rose Greenleaf, Belenus Ayecroft, her old bard teacher, Red Meg Sparrow, Skullcap Axton, and Prince Culain Ironheart. I even have a fondness for the sly changeling, Crimson, and Beleth, the Goblin Queen.
I must admit Rose Greenleaf is my favorite. She is everything we should be! She is brave, honest, determined, and talented. She takes risks to achieve her dreams. It brings her some regret, but also maturity. She is not a princess in a tower awaiting rescue. Rose fought for everything based on her own merits and talent against all odds. A Dwarven maiden with an old lute and singing skill braved a journey of adventure and danger.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I’m a fantasy girl. I do some science fiction, and have a novel planned (with a heroine lead of course). As a reader, I love reading fantasy of all kinds, science fiction, and even mystery. My writing talent is for fantasy.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
I plan a lot for my novels. From creating basic story, characters, world, races, politics, and religion. All of my novels have a compendium. It is very detailed. Rose’s compendium is 40 pages long, with details on world, cultures, characters, everything. I do not do chapter outlines. I just know where I want to go.
What is your best marketing tip?
I wish I had more knowledge to share. I am still stumbling, finding ways to make it work. Use social media wisely. Make sure you research any media promotions, but it can help a little. Use Canvas to create your own ads for Twitter and FB. Pray a lot.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
It can be both, but it is a long learning process.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Creating new characters and stories!
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
My husband, Rick Hipps, is my best mentor/supporter.
Where is your favorite writing space?
My writing desk at home with all my inspirational images and books.
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
Some of my favorites are sadly gone. David Eddings, Tanith Lee, Ray Bradbury, Robert E. Howard. They created fantastic images and rich characters in their tales. I am reading new talents now, so I hope to have new ones to look up to soon.
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
Ireland. I am of Irish heritage and drawn there.
Do you see writing as a career?
If I ever make enough money at it, I’ll let you know.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
Chocolate!!! Cookies are good writing companions. Which is why I have to do extra cardio. And lots of coffee or tea.
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
Shopping and adding to my book collection.
Verna McKinnon is a writer of fantasy and lover of all things joyous and geeky. She writes obsessively and drinks coffee. Fantasy author of heroines. She is the author of fantasy novels The Bardess of Rhulon, Gate of Souls & Tree of Bones. Fantasy is her genre of choice. You can read her blog and updates, plus some of her previously published short stories at her website http://vernamckinnon.com. Follow Verna on Twitter & Facebook for the latest on her life as a poor, published, but proud indie fantasy author.
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Depends on more easy the ideas and writing is flowing. If everything is flowing nicely and i’m forming an idea that makes me proud, writing gives me a powerful high that makes me super bubbly. If I’m having a hard time, like when you’re trying so hard just to write ANYTHING because you’re trying to power through a block. That digs at my soul.
What is your writing Kryptonite? Getting distracted by TV or movies.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Not at the moment.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I’ve connected with a lot of authors online but I haven’t connected to any of them outside of that. The ones I’ve met online have helped in so many ways. They have given me a like-minded community to bounce ideas off of and give feedback. Some of them were my beta readers for Beyond the Code.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I have some book ideas that are going to develop into expansive series but for the most part they stand on their own.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? I am still very new on the writer scene so I haven’t made much of any money yet. Fingers crossed.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? From an early age, language and writing always gave me an outlet for my crazy imagination. It was a great way to bring my thoughts into the world and helped me sort out a lot of my feelings.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? To Kill a Mockingbird. A lot of people I talk to don’t like it but I thought it was a very thought provoking read.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? A fox. I love foxes
10. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? I have a bunch of story ideas and a couple of them I have started writing but Beyond the Code was actually the first book I wrote fully.
11. What does literary success look like to you? Seeing my book on the shelf at a bookstore.
12. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? I am a thorough planner when it comes to my books. I plan out all the events in order for the book, do all the research necessary, and start writing. I try my best to make it as authentic as possible.
13. How many hours a day/week do you write? As much as I can but life gets in the way a bit more than I would prefer.
14. How do you select the names of your characters? Sometimes the name just comes to me when I’m making the character but most of the time I use a baby naming book.
15. What was your hardest scene to write? Emotionally, there’s a scene in the book I’m writing now that deals with a character letting go of a future that she can’t have. But there was another scene in Beyond the Code where there was a lot of characters involved in a fight scene and keeping track of all of them was pretty difficult.
16. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them? So far, I’ve just been writing urban fantasy. I chose it because I love the idea of putting extraordinary things in the mundane world.
17. How long have you been writing? I started writing short stories when I was around 10 and have been doing that off and on throughout my teen years and started seriously putting myself into it when I move out.
18. What inspires you? Anime, comic books, and movies.
19. How do you find or make time to write? Sometimes you just have to put aside things you enjoy to get the words out. It can be hard but sometimes I have to be my own hard ass boss.
20. What projects are you working on at the present? Right now, I am working on a sequel to Beyond the Code.
21. What do your plans for future projects include? Trying to make Beyond the Code successful and get the sequel published.
Kelsey Rae Barthel grew up in the quiet town of Hay Lakes in Alberta, a sleepy place of only 500 people. Living in such a calm setting gave her a lot of spare time to imagine grand adventures of magic and danger, inspired by the comic books and anime she enjoyed. Upon graduating high school, Kelsey moved to Edmonton and eventually began working in the business of airline cargo, but she never stopped imagining those adventures. Beyond the Code is her first novel.
Yes with my newest book, it did exhaust me because of all the research and due to the fact I have a vision problem.
2. How many writing groups do you attend? How does it help your writing?
I am currently with several writing groups. The Inspiring Writers, Authors in the News, and Christian Ebook Writers. Each group is very helpful to me and have helped out a lot by giving me good advice and it has saved me a lot money.
3. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
My last book, Tales from a Closet has to stand alone because it is fiction and the content is different from my latest book, which is The Legacy of Christ. In turn this book will be linked to a following one.
4. How long have you been writing?
I began in high school but then continued in college although I questioned my ability as I lacked experience. However, after attending a creative writing class, my tutor encouraged me to submit several poems to a contest. I won an award, was named poet of the year and invited to California to read them.
5. What does literary success look like to you?
For me it isn’t just about money but getting myself out there and my message in helping the Westminster Church of Detroit. And hopefully donating to the church.
6. Which is harder to write fiction or non-fiction?
Since I am a fiction writer, I find this easier as non-fiction books can be challenging. That is why it took me eight months to research and write The Legacy of Christ. I feel I was commissioned to write the book.
7. What do your plans for future projects include?
I do plan to write another book but will have to research a lot for it and also to save in order to get it published.
8. What was your hardest scene to write?
For me it was the telling of Christ’s life.
9. How many hours a day/week do you write?
It depends on the story and what information I need but mostly I can write for hours. If I’m working on an ebook it can take up a whole day at a time.
10. How do you select the names of your characters?
When it comes to naming character I go with past experiences, such as ex boy friends.
11. What inspires you?
Life is what inspires me. I love to see the words come to life on paper. life is what inspires me I love to see the words come to life on papper .
12. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I feel like it would be a kitten, or baby bird because they grow to be great bird flying high. I think my work can soar too.